I did some checking on Dell's site and noticed there is a firmware update dated 4/18/2009. One of the issues it addresses is excessive cleaning light issues. I am scheduling a maintenance window with my client and will see if this fixes this issue.
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We have had the same problems with HP drives and Veritas. In our case it was not the drive per se. While I am assuming that based on the date of your post that you have moved to another solution, however, I will provide for you what we did.
First shut all down, disconnect the tape drive from the scsi cable, then restart. Go into computer management and turn all your backup exec services from auto to manual. Now go to devices and do a rescan. Once this is done and you see no tape drive whatsoever in the devices shut down the server. Reconnect the scsi cable to the drive and restart.
Go back into computer management, back to devices and rescan for hardware changes. Do you see it? If so, good! Sometimes a re-seating of connectors will do that. On the other hand, it could also be a tape driver from Veritas that just doesn't work (my case), take the original driver cd that came with the unit and start that loading up. Can you see it now? Can you use windows backup to access the tape drive? Now go into services and start the services individually. Go into backup exec and see if you can read your tape. Go back to services and reset all services back to auto. If you ever have to reinstall/upgrade backup exec, think twice about using their drivers.
Make sure there are no pending jobs on the drive, if the drive is expecting a tape and gets a cleaning tape it will spit it out. Also, has the cleaning tape been used a lot? They have a limited life cycle and if they have exceeded their max uses they may not work.
Tape drives do need cleaning frequently and the 'auto clean' facility may not be enough.
The problem is the continuous shedding of oxide needs cleaning right off and the auto system may not be enough.
What you need is a back-up Drive.
and the out of service drive needs physically stripping down to clean all off using a soft brush and where appropriate coproponal alcohol